In his speech following the South Carolina Republican primary, Ted Cruz said that “we are the only campaign that has beaten, and can beat, Donald Trump.” The second part of that (the “can beat” part) is certainly debatable—Marco Rubio would beg to differ, and perhaps neither one of them can beat Trump—but Cruz has a point in focusing attention on the results to date.
Since 1980, no eventual GOP nominee has failed to win at least one state from among Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. And only one eventual GOP nominee has failed to finish in the top three in all three of those states (John McCain, who finished fourth in Iowa in 2008). Trump and Cruz have each done both of those things—finishing first in one state and in the top three in all three—while no other candidate in the field has done either of those things.
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